Does Gareth Bale's arrival make Real Madrid title contenders this season?
Gareth Bale finally made his childhood dream move to Real Madrid from English Premier League side, Tottenham Hotspur. With Mesut Ozil leaving the other way to Arsenal, it left a huge void in the creativity department, although the Los Blancos do have more than enough to cope with the loss of Ozil. Real Madrid still do have Croatian star Luka Modric, who, however, is 27 years old, which is a little bit older than most of their midfielders.
The 24 year old was born in Cardiff, Wales, but played his entire youth football, starting in 2005 at Southampton. Gareth Bale only spent one season, 2005-06, in the youth ranks before graduating to first team football the following season. During his time in the first team he made 40 appearances, but only scoring five times before making his 2 million pound move to Tottenham. His fee would rise to 10 million pounds, though, based on his number of appearances and his performance in the matches.
Below is Real Madrid’s strongest starting eleven, although there will probably be a variety of formations used and this is just a generic outline of one of them, as shown below:
Lopes; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; di Maria, Isco, Alonso (when healthy), Bale; Ronaldo, Benzema
I believe that di Maria has found a resurgence under Ancelloti and I really do hope that the ex-PSG manager will continue to pick di Maria because he has been in fine form this early season. Hopefully Ancelloti will switch his tactics around so that way he can use as much of these creative players as possible. The hard part will being able to find a balance with his squad, which I will expand on more during further down in this article. Sorry, anyways, back to the main idea of this article, Bale.
During his time at Tottenham, he was used predominately on the right hand side during the 2012/13, though he usually had the freedom to roam around the pitch from either side. Despite all the key goals that he scored for the Hotspur’s last season, he failed to convert over 84.2% of his total shots, that is 112 shots that did not find the back of the net. And had Bale not been at the White Hart Lane the club would have gained 24 points less than what they eventually ended up as. Even when he plays for the Welsh National Team the 24 year old gets moved around all over the place depending on the opposition.
His technical ability should rival that with the best in La Liga and that is no small feat with the likes of Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo, and the lot. Bale is able to dribble past most defenders with just his pace, which is really frightening, to be honest. Last weekend, Real Madrid faced off against Athletic Bilbao, beat them easily, 3-1, but one of Bilbao’s
One of his most underrated aspects, in my honest opinion, is Bale’s ability to cross the ball into the box. Yes, his direct free kick ability is what has really earned the Welsh international all of the attention, and it really started during his time at Southampton as a youngster. But when Bale hits his crosses, he puts in a lot of force and power behind the ball, whether they’re sent in flying along on the pitch or lifted above the opposition’s defenders. Another thing about Bale’s crosses is that they always seem to cause chaos in the eighteen yard box.
If there is one thing I would like to see him improve on is his shot selection. Most of the time, as soon as he gets near the box Bale will line up and fire away. As stated above, he shot the ball over 115 times during the course of the season, which is really quite a crazy number when you think about it. Bale needs to be more selective with his shots at Real Madrid. He will not be the focal point like he was at Tottenham so he will have the luxury to be patient and look for the right opportunity before he strikes.
Finding a Winning Balance
One thing that will be interesting to watch over the course of the season is how the squad develops and really find an identity. Will they be focused around Ronaldo or Bale? That is the obvious question that everybody wants to have answered, but it won’t be that easy to answer. Obviously Cristiano has been at the club longer than Bale (Captain obvious at your service) With already two world class wingers in Portuguese international Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine internatoinal Angel di Maria, so where does this leave Bale?
New Arsenal star Mesut Ozil prompted a move out of the Spanish club because he did not want to move down the pecking order in Ancelloti’s line up, especially with this being the season right before the World Cup and the German international wanted guaranteed playing time so that way he could possibly secure a roster spot with the German National Team when it’s time to head on down to Brazil this next summer. So, will the same thing happen with di Maria as well? That is probably unlikely. Ronaldo has played up front recently in what was perhaps trying to prepare him for the arrival of Gareth so that the new kid will be able to slot in on the left hand side so that di Maria does not have to resort to sitting on the bench, especially since the Argentine has been quite superb these first couple of matches of the season.
So, all in all, the acquisition of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid for a world record fee will most certainly pay off by winning a ton of trophies for the time being, and this will most certainly put Los Blancos back at the top of the title race with Barcelona and their new superstar, Neymar. However, with this said, I do not think that Real Madrid has the overall depth in the squad that is usually required to win the Champions League.
I will definitely come back to this over the course of the season to see whether or not my predictions have come true and will be updating their tactical nuances from time to time.